After a months-long search for the perfect candidate, Pelican Isle Yacht Club (Naples, Fla.) hired Roger Anderhalden as its Executive Chef. Anderhalden previously held the position of Executive Chef at The Mediterra Beach Club, also in Southwest Florida.
“[Anderhalden] was a terrific find for us,” says General Manager Alisha Feezor. “Not only did he fit the profile of our ideal candidate, but he was also a pleasure to work with throughout the search and hiring process.”
In addition to his technical skills and culinary background, Feezor adds, Anderhalden possesses strong problem-solving abilities and communication skills—qualities she deems essential in a chef, influenced in part by her own background. Before joining Pelican Isle, Feezor served in the Army for eight years. When she joined the club, she spent four years as Food and Beverage Manager before assuming the role of GM in 2016.
Club + Resort Chef (C+RC): How does your F&B background impact the way you lead as a GM?
Alisha Feezor (AF): It’s helpful to have firsthand experience; it gives credibility with the board, and it has helped me advocate for those departments.
I have an appreciation for the type of support they need, whether it’s equipment, resources, specific communication, guidance. I also have a good relationship with the [F&B] department heads. The Assistant F&B Director moved up into the department head role. We had a system already in place, so it was a seamless transition.
C+RC: And how does your Army background impact your leadership style?
AF: Communication is huge. The Army is very, very big on planning—an organized method of planning—as well as direct communication, which is helpful, especially at very busy times.
For us, we had a lot of damage from the hurricane in the fall. In unusual operating times, it’s helpful to be able to fall back on that structured communication and planning.
C+RC: Why should a chef want to work for Pelican Isle?
AF: We have the best members—truly supportive, appreciative members. They are proud of the club and love their experience with us. That is a big motivator: feeling valued by the membership. We also have a great management team that’s been together for a long time; there’s a lot of longevity, stability, support and collaboration. Those two big things make the work experience positive, and this gives [a club chef] the opportunity to focus on trying new things, not being bogged down by little battles every day.
C+RC: What challenges and opportunities will Chef encounter?
AF: We are still recovering from damages sustained from Hurricane Ian in 2022. In addition to getting to know each of our culinary team members and participating in the planning of our upcoming season, [Chef] will be active in the ongoing capital projects and planning as well as placing high emphasis on creating a great member experience after a very challenging year.
The members are excited and ready to enjoy their club. [Chef] is walking into an environment where everyone is primed for a great experience.
C+RC: You’ve been at Pelican Isle for 10 years. How has F&B evolved?
AF: We’ve made three impactful changes. First, we’ve started using the H-2B program for our seasonal workers, and we are now properly staffed.
Second, we hired an event manager. We do very little outside weddings or corporate events. But even in a smaller operation, you need a dedicated person to spend time on the details for those events so you can deliver a ‘wow’ experience.
Third, like many other clubs, we’ve shifted toward casual dining. We are developing a master facility plan that’ll guide our operation for the next five to 10 years. We’re evaluating ultra-casual dining solutions to continue to meet member expectations in our amenity areas: resort-style pool, bocce courts, tennis, and pickleball.
C+RC: How do you describe the food at your club?
AF: It’s classic casual American with coastal Floridian influences. There’s an emphasis on seafood, of course, and local produce. Our pizza ovens get very heavily used.
Our interactive food stations—anything with a personalized experience—are popular. For example, we did a cookie-decorating station for Christmas, which members absolutely loved.
C+RC: In what other ways do you support the culinary team?
AF: I’m big on making sure they have the tools and the resources they need. I try to spend time back there so I can empathize with their challenges. Sometimes there are little things that are easy to solve—the hot water heater temperature is not set properly or the gasket on the oven is leaking—it just takes the right person to solve it.
I’m also an advocate for education and training, not just at the executive level, but if there’s a chance to get the line cooks to a food show or participate in a competition.
Lastly, I create opportunities for the back-of-the-house to engage with not just the front-of-the-house staff, but the rest of the team, the members. This helps them build a team culture and see the bigger picture that they are an important part of. I think that’s pretty powerful.